Monday, November 21, 2005

A New kind of Politics

I just started reading "Who Speaks For God?" by Jim Wallis. I am loving it so far, I wish everyone who has a public voice and claimed to be a Christian was required to read it.

We have such a divided political landscape now days, and I think the church often is right in the middle of that divide. Here is what Wallis has to say about true "moral" politics, and I definatly agree:

"Religious values can help us find the path to a new politics. The spiritual politics that we need must be rooted in the values of compassion, community, and civility. These three can be viewed, in fact, as religious tests of politics.

COMPASSION is the first test of politics, from a religious perspective. A new politics of compassion would especially focus on those whom Jesus called "the least of these." It is a selective morality indeed that ignores the Bible's deep concerns about economic justice and racial reconciliation in a divided society. From the Religious Right we simply don't hear that cry being raised with the power of Jesus or of Amos, who called upon his hearers to "let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a flowing steam."

How do we treat the poor, the stranger, the outcast, the weak, the vulnerable, the children? The Hebrew prophets saw this as the truest criterion of a nation's integrity. With this measure of compassion as a moral beacon, we can move beyond the old categories of Left and Right as we make our way through the questions of social policy and welfare reform towards the alleviation of poverty. We must transcend the tired debates between defending old welfare bureaucracies or balancing the budget on the backs of our poorest children. Neither maintaining poverty nor abandoning the poor is a moral option.

The second test of politics is COMMUNITY—whether our political policies and processes build or destroy our common life. Martin Luther King once wrote that the choice before us was "chaos or community." Because we have rejected the latter we are now faced with the former. The breakdown of family and community in our nation must focus our attention on reweaving the fabric of life and relationships that has so seriously eroded. The gangs and violence that now plague even our middle-sized and small towns are a direct consequence of the breakdown of family, community, and economy. They all must be repaired.

A renewed sense of community at both local and national levels would aim at bridging our racial, economic, and social divides; and a politics of hope might offer 5the vision that both liberals and conservatives have failed to provide. Many people are already engaged across the country in grassroots efforts to fashion a new political community. Their stories and experience must become a part of the national discussion.

Our third test of politics is CIVILITY—the character of our public discourse and decision making, and the participation of ordinary people in the political process. The politics of warring factions, "us and them" rhetoric, and the polemics of fear and blame, must be seriously critiqued from a religious perspective. In particular the religious community must challenge the Right to stop blaming the poor, the urban underclass, the homeless, the blacks, the homosexuals, the feminists. And the liberals must be challenged to stop stereotyping and caricaturing evangelicals, conservatives, and religious commitment generally, or belittling "traditional," "moral," and "family" values.

We must try to find common ground by moving to higher ground on a whole range of issues, including some of the most incendiary issues like abortion and homosexuality. Could we not recognize both the sanctity of human life and the equality of women? Couldn't we strongly support the rebuilding of traditional two-parent families while we stop scapegoating homosexuals as if they are responsible for the breakdown of our families?"

1 comment:

Mamamax said...

JR, thanks for sharing the review. Sounds like an interesting read. Might have to do that one next.

Blessings on you!